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5 Common Challenges Faced by Expats

Challenges that expats often encounter while living abroad – Five Plus One.

Moving abroad is often an overwhelming experience for any expatriate. The act of moving to a country that is unfamiliar to your own, a limited social network, and new cultures and languages can often feel burdensome on many people. As an expat moving abroad, there are surely going to be some challenges and obstacles when it comes to the relocation process, as well as the adjustment period once relocated. Many people will react to the stress in different ways as challenges will vary depending on location, cultures, languages, personal mannerisms and general customs of the country. However, there are a few common challenges that most expatriates encounter when relocating. We have put together a list of the 5 most common challenges faced by expats in order to aid in your settlement into your new country and allowing you to enjoy this adventure to the best ability possible. Note that the challenges below are in no particular order of importance.

Challenge #1: Fitting in

As an expatriate moving abroad, there is a big chance that you are leaving a large social & professional network back home. This can have a huge effect on someone, especially if you are someone that places a high significance on these relationships. Don’t fear, you are definitely not the first, nor the last expatriate to have the fear of not fitting in properly in your new city.

Challenge #2: A language barrier

If you are moving to a country that has an entirely different language than your own, the process of getting accustomed to your city and the locals may seem daunting. This is something that is ultimately unavoidable if you don’t know the local language beforehand. Read all about our advice on learning a new language while living abroad in order to facilitate the process, and jump-start the learning curve for your new life abroad! We do recommend trying to learn a rudimentary level of the foreign language before you take off, as it will facilitate the entire process of moving overseas!

Challenge #3: Being lonely

Don’t let the fear or the potential of being lonely prevent you from embarking on a new adventure and impede your decision to become an expatriate in a foreign country. It is extremely common for a new expat to feel lonely when they first move abroad. A key point to target when you relocate to a foreign country is to build strong relationships with the people around you. This will surely take some time, but it is important to try your best to form some bonds with the people and the city in which you now call home.

Challenge #4: Finances & money management

Organizing your finances, taxes and money management can be extremely difficult when you are living in your home country but adding overseas travel and living abroad to the mix, and things get very complicated. As an expatriate, you will have to decide if you will become a non-resident for tax purposes by talking to an expat tax expert – do not try to do it on your own. We have a list of some great expat tax advisors at our Links page. You will also have to advise your bank that you will be living abroad and probably have to set up new banking in your new home country. Most countries will want to see your visa documents and also some proof that you will be living there. It may be useful to keep your bank account back home as well. Having a bank account in your new host country in the local currency will still be invaluable and probably save you on foreign exchange. You may also have to move your investment account as well, so talk to your investment advisor and tax accountant to see what solution works best.

Challenge #5: Healthcare 

Making sure you have proper global health insurance while living abroad is one of the biggest concerns that many expatriates worry about when it comes to relocation. Local plans in your new host country may not be up to your standards and may only provide basic coverage and access to local hospitals. Most expats want to have access to private healthcare both in the host country, regionally and also for treatment back home. Having an international health insurance plan in place before leaving abroad will alleviate stress with finances, ability to obtain medical help and peace of mind for the duration of your relocation. Contact us today to discuss all your international insurance needs!

Challenge #6: Safety 

Yes, I know we said only 5 challenges, but we really needed to add expat safety to the article. As discussed in our expat safety page, personal safety is a very high priority for individual expats and expatriate employers and global mobility managers. While the world is safer now than it has been in the past, today’s security concerns and challenges range from terrorism, bombings, assaults, thefts and much more. It is vital that expats prepare for the worst when moving abroad and check out the local security in their new home country through both free and even paid information sources. Even expat destinations in first world countries can be fraught with danger – such as the terrorist attacks in Europe and mass shootings experienced in the USA. Expat safety should definitely be your priority if you are moving abroad or already living the expat life.

The top 10 healthiest countries to be an expat

A guide to the top 10 healthiest countries to be an Expat

Countries all over the world offer a variety of appealing aspects that may drive expats to relocate there. In recent studies, 6 of the top 10 most healthy countries in the world to live in are situated in Europe. Factors that were considered for the study were life expectancy rates, tobacco use and obesity rates.  Note that any list is somewhat arbitrary and subjective, but here are the top 10 healthiest countries to be an expat for 2019 are the following (in no particular order):

1. Iceland

Iceland has been regarded as one of the healthiest places to live (outside of Europe) for multiple reasons. The population of Iceland live off of a farm-to-table philosophy, meaning they believe in eating foods that are naturally abundant and fresh. They also have phenomenal governmental policies that regulate industrial pollution and encourages businesses to use clean, renewable and sustainable energy sources that aid in the well-being of the countries health standards. The local population has also said that they believe that “Water therapy” is a reason that contributes to their happiness and health. Water therapy is when you sit in the waters on the natural hot springs found all over Iceland, and allow yourself to relax in the volcanically warmed waters. Another very important reason as to why Iceland had made it to the list is their gender equality policies. Iceland was the first country to fully remove the gender gap pay and is a leading country for all gender inequalities for the world.

2. Switzerland

Switzerland has long been known to be one of the happiest and healthiest countries in the world. The way of life encourages a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. One of the reasons Switzerland is famous for is investing in its population. Government spending is budgeted for high standards of education, excellent health care and for innovations for the country. A well-balanced lifestyle has allows the people of Switzerland to be one of the countries with the lowest level of depression in the world.

3. Spain

Why put Spain on the top 10 healthiest countries list? Spain has one of the highest life expectancy rates, and it continues to increase as the years go on. Environmental factors, such as access to clean water and sanitation, a Mediterranean diet, minimal use of tobacco, and low obesity rates are just a few other reasons why Spain continues to be a desirable and healthy country to live in. Spain is also known for its close and important familial ties and bonds that are ingrained into the local population. This, of course, isn’t the main reason why Spain tends to flourish, but it definitely is an important factor.

4. Norway

Norway has also been placed on the top 10 healthiest countries to live in. In a traditional Scandinavian way of life, Norway places a high value on a well balanced, active and healthy lifestyle. Another key point that drives Norway to the top of the list is shorter working hours, where employees are almost never required to work past 4 p.m., as well as a cultural environment that minimally encourages the drinking of alcoholic beverages.

5. Italy

The importance of leisurely dining and a well-balanced diet is extremely common in Italian culture. As the Italians say, always chose quality over quantity. It is common for Italians to source their food, oils and spices from local and non-commercialized sources. Their focus on a Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes local fruits, vegetables, oils, and fish, is also sourced as a core reason as to why Italy has continuously made it to the list.

6. Sweden

A second Scandinavian country to top the list of the healthiest 10 countries to live as an expat is Sweden. Known for a lifestyle of moderations (food & alcohol), Sweden is famous for living under the philosophy of “Lagom”, which indirectly translates to English as “not too little, not too much, just the right amount”. This allows the population of Sweden to live a casual lifestyle, eat in variation and walk everywhere.

7. Israel

The Israelian population flourishes in a culture that promotes a vibrant lifestyle, spirituality and a positive healing environment. They focus on an extremely healthy, fresh and delicious diet that promotes the well being of the nation. Their healthy eating habits and lifestyle is one of the main reasons why Israel is one of the leading countries for life expectancy rates in the world. The emphasis on family and family values are also leading causes for the countries health prosperity.

8. Japan

The first of two Asian countries to be recognized as one of the healthiest countries to live in in 2019 is Japan. One of the main reasons Japan is highly regarded for its health standards is due to their diets and lifestyle. Japan has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, which is due partly to its green landscapes, its family values, and its well-balanced eating habits.

9. Singapore

The second of two Asian countries that have made it to the top 10 healthiest countries to be an expat in 2019 is Singapore. Leading with one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world, Singapore has continuously considered as being one of the most sought out countries to live in as an expatriate. Singapore is well known for being extremely safe and has some of the best food in the world.

10. Australia

Known for the Gold Coast and beautiful sandy beaches, Australia has continuously been placed on the list for the healthiest countries to live in as an expat. Complete with a sport and outdoor culture, Austalia is one of the most active and adventure seeking countries in the world. While some may indulge in a bit too many Fosters and shrimp on the BBQ, this outback country is an excellent expat destination. The country is well known for it’s laid back lifestyle – the Australian population is known for being mostly healthy and happy!

 

Although these countries are listed as being the top 10 healthiest countries to live for an expat, it is still crucial that you obtain international health insurance if you are planning on pursuing an international relocation. Staying healthy is not easy, but everyone gets sick or has an injury at some point in their lives – that is why it is critical for you to prepare for the worst by obtaining global health coverage that will be there when you need it!

Contact us today at info@tfgglobal.com to discuss your international insurance needs and requirements.

Thai Expat Guide to Eating and Living Healthy

A Short Guide to Living and Eating in Thailand for Expats

People need to be independent in order to succeed when living outside of their home countries. If an expat gets ill, they may have to rely on themselves to get by when trying to recover from the medical conditions.  As such, expats need to be extra careful when caring for their health. We have created a Thai expat guide to eating and living healthy for expatriates overseas. One of the ways expats can care for their health is by ensuring that they eat healthily and lead healthy lifestyles. The list of tips to eating healthy and living healthy lifestyles for expats is extensive. Below, though, are just some of the tips expats may refer to in eating healthy and living healthy lifestyles if they are based in Thailand:

1. Monitor all caloric intakes, even the small ones 

Oftentimes, intakes of small doses of calories are the ones that add up quicker than the intake of larger doses of calories. Expats need to ensure that they only seldom eat fast foods. Eating small doses of junk foods often adds up to more than the large doses of calories taken by larger meals, without expats realizing of its effects. It’s important to also remember caloric intakes from beverages. Often these are forgotten about, but they have the potential to add up quickly in someone’s diet.

2. Host healthy physical activities with fellow expats & other colleagues

Expats can surely benefit from weekly group physical activities with fellow expats and other colleagues, examples of these activities are yoga, aerobics, and so on. Expats may initiate hosting these activities in gyms or local community centers. Once organized, expats can invite larger groups of colleagues to participate in order to create a healthy and social activity for everyone.

3. Participate in other travel programs that employers may offer

While working in Thailand, Expats do not need to confine themselves to Thailand for the duration of their stay. If other opportunities to travel for work come their way, it is encouraged for expats to explore surrounding countries. Seizing the opportunities to travel to Singapore, Malaysia, or Hong Kong for work shall prevent Thai expats to have idle physical activities only. Expats will have opportunities to move out and about, and thus, be more physically active, while travelling extensively.

4. Continue eating a consistent healthy diet

It is always better for expats to continue eating in a healthy manner, ideally in the way they have always previously been accustomed to. Expats need to be resourceful in finding proper stores in Thailand that sell the healthy foods which they previously ate back in their home countries. Expats will need to invest efforts and patience in order to succeed in locating these stores in Thailand. Down the road, though, expats shall realize that the efforts they invested in doing this are well worth it in the long run.

Our informal Thai expat guide to eating and living healthy is a rudimental approach for staying healthy while living abroad. Expats currently need not settle with the ways they are living their lives and eating the foods they love to eat. They need to always be open to any alterations which they may need to apply to their lives in order to eat and live healthy lives. Thailand offers excellent food choices for expatriates and locals alike. Don’t be afraid to indulge in local food chocies. In the long run, expats are the only people who may benefit from these choices themselves, and once they reap the fruits of eating and living healthy lifestyles.

For extra protection, ensure that you have an international health plan in place that will provide you with extra security in case you fall ill. Knowing that you have proper medical care will allow you to live a more comfortable and stress-free life. For your international health care needs, contact Expat Financial to discuss all your personal needs today!

What to consider when you are relocating abroad

Relocating abroad will almost always involve finding somewhere to live, looking for a new job, and finding schools for your children. With so many things to consider, it is often easy to overlook something as important as international health insurance. In this article, we explain what to consider when you are relocating abroad, and we will explore the international health insurance that you will want to take with you when relocating abroad.

The Importance of International Healthcare

The most important factor in your plan to relocate is to acquire an appropriate international healthcare plan. The most common misconception regarding this topic is that you can take your domestic healthcare plans with you when you relocate. In fact, when you leave your native country, most domestic health insurance plans are voided. From an insurance company’s point of view, an expat is no longer a resident in their home country when living abroad and therefore no longer entitled to domestic coverage.

Another misconception is that as soon as you move to a new country, you will be entitled to local healthcare coverage from the state; however, this is not always the case. In addition, healthcare standards in many destinations are often inconsistent and lesser than the standards of your home country. It is also critical that you seek out expert advice when seeking international health insurance, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions which require coverage.

Relocation considerations aren’t only measured in terms of financial costs of living, such as moving expenses and cost of living, but one must also keep in mind the adaptations of language requirements and cultural differences. It is critical that you prepare appropriately for your various needs; however, without international medical insurance, an unexpected injury could cripple your financial situation.

Find what’s best for you

Finding the right international medical insurer is an extremely complex issue. There are many different levels of healthcare around the world, as well as vastly changing local regulations. It is subsequently very important to ensure you’ve selected an international health insurance plan that fully protects you and your family.

Expat Financial offers a variety of international insurance health insurance plans on a group or individual basis. To maximize your expat experience and avoid unforeseen risks and costs, please contact us today to discuss your international insurance needs and requirements. Our toll-free number: 1-800-232-9415 or email us at info@tfgglobal.com.

Top 10 Expatriate Careers in 2019

Learn About the Top Ten Expatriate Careers in 2019

The decision to move abroad has been made, and the process of organizing your checklist of tasks to accomplish before taking off has begun. There will surely be lots of things to consider while planning your move abroad; however, one task that should be high on your list will be your search for a job. Securing a job will facilitate your move by securing funds, increasing your local network, facilitate your ability to rent an apartment and so on.  We have created a list of the top 10 industries for expats working abroad to help you discover where you’ll prosper! It is important to remember which opportunities are best for you and where you believe will allow you to call a new city home.

1. Hospitality

The hospitality industry is known for its social and high energy environment. If you are looking for a career that allows you to explore new cultures and to fully immerse yourself in the day to day life of local natives, hospitality is the job for you. With the advantage of being diverse and flexible, jobs within the hospitality industry – such as working in a restaurant or a hotel – are a wonderful way to join the community and understand local traditions, cultures, and way of life.

2. Resort Staff

Living in a resort is a dream for many people, however few can experience the opportunity due to high costs. If this sounds familiar to you, or you simply are looking for a new adventure, then working in a resort may be your best option! Working abroad in a local resort has an amplitude of benefits, such as wonderful accommodation, food service and the beautiful sceneries. There is no limit to where your resort stays may bring you – whether that be the beautiful African Sahara or the stunning beaches in Greece.

3. Tourism

The tourism industry is the perfect balance for people who are continuous adventure seekers but also want the stability of a career. If travelling is one of your biggest passions, a wonderful benefit of getting involved in the tourism field is that it allows you to help others fulfil their biggest dreams and desires to travel the world. The flexibility of working in tourism is another important benefit to consider. If you prefer an office position while on your downtime for travelling, you can easily obtain a job for a local travel agency; however, if you prefer to maintain an active lifestyle you can find jobs as a flight attendant or a tour guide.

4. Education

Joining the education field is always a satisfying and enjoyable opportunity. There are many options that one can take as an expatriate that is wanting to get into education. Whether you decide that private tutoring is the way for you, or take the more traditional approach and teach a full classroom, both options will surely satisfy your teaching desires. Teaching abroad is a wonderful opportunity to expand your skills as it allows you to work with a diverse group of people, as well as allows you to expand your experiences and connections with those in your new community.

5. Au pair

An au pair is someone who moves in with a family and takes care of the children and some basic household needs. It is a fantastic opportunity for young adults to experience a new city while helping a family. Typically, a host au pair family will pay all the expenses for the worker (lodging, food, weekly allowance etc.) in return for the help of au pair. It is particularly popular for families looking to incorporate a new language into the family, as they will often bring in an au pair from a foreign country that can teach a new language. An important aspect of being an au pair is to ensure that you have discussed expectations of hours to work, time off etc. in order to avoid any complications down the road!

6. Nursing

Working abroad as a nurse is an amazing opportunity to gain new knowledge and expand your experiences in the field. Working in a new country will allow you to treat patients from different backgrounds and new techniques in the medical field. As rewarding as a nursing job abroad is, it is important to note that you will need to be a registered nurse in your home town in order to transfer to a nursing job overseas. Transferring to a new country may require an entrance exam for the country, so make sure to do all the proper research before making the move.

7. Photography

What better way to expand a photography portfolio than to jump into a career in photography while living abroad. The opportunity to gain new insights and designs from a new environment will surely bring new creative designs and looks for anyone’s portfolio. Another advantage of starting a job in photography is that you often have the ability to work as a freelancer – meaning you are less likely to be tied down to a standard 9-5 career.

8. Marketing & Public Relations

If you see yourself as a more creative person, a job in marketing or public relations could be the best option! In a field that thrives in a dynamic and continuously changing environment, marketing allows someone to fully integrate their own personality and values into their jobs. With the field of marketing vastly growing, the number of international jobs that are readily available for expatriates moving abroad is on the rise and have proven to be extremely successful and enjoyable for new workers.

9. Business

With the movement of today’s global industries, the international approach for many companies is becoming very predominant. As these companies continue to expand, the opportunity to interact with international clients is rising in popularity. A wonderful way to strengthen your professional profile is to jump into the business field and learn how to communicate and interact with a largely diverse population. Business opportunities can take you anywhere in the world – whether it is getting into the finance industry in Denmark or the fashion industry in France, you have the chances to travel the world while advancing your career.

10. Teaching a language

Last but not least, one of the amazing jobs you can do while working abroad is teaching English. In today’s day in age, English has become one of the leading languages to learn, and many foreign parents and young adults are on the hunt for professional English tutors. The opportunity to choose just about anywhere in the world, the ability to travel, and work digitally are just a few of the benefits of this amazing job field.

Don’t Forget Global Health Insurance When You Work Abroad

Before you take on any career abroad, it is important to obtain global health insurance coverage through your employer’s global benefit plan or an individual expat healthcare policy that will fully cover your medical expenses and those of your partner and family members. Medical expenses can be extremely expensive overseas or medical care and health coverage may be substandard locally. Your work abroad may also take you to different locations where a domestic policy won’t cover you or you may move from one expat destination to another. Contact our firm to learn more about the excellent international health coverage that we can source for you today.

Five most costly cities for expatriates living abroad

When talking about cost-of-living overseas for expatriate employees, it is not just exchange rates of currency, cost of food or groceries, but also housing costs. According to a recent Forbes’ survey result, the five most expensive real estate markets are Hong Kong, Mumbai, Beijing, Shanghai and London. In this article, we will discuss the five most costly cities for expatriates living abroad.

  1. Hong Kong, CHN

Hong Kong is considered one of the most successful financial centres around the world. It owns advanced medical care system,  promotes an active lifestyle and provides an excellent educational system. According to the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey of 2016, Hong Kong‘s property market is the world’s most unaffordable. As stated in Mercer‘s Cost of Living Survey, Hong Kong is the most expensive in the Asian Pacific region. According to a local real estate site HongKongHomes.com, you should expect to pay around HK$ 55,000 per month (equivalent to ~ USD $7086.4 monthly) in order to rent a two bedroom, two bathrooms apartment with a saleable area of 953 sq.ft. If you would like to own the apartment, the price increases to HK$ 24,000,000 (~ USD $3,092,245.44).

2. Mumbai, IN

Surrounded by sea on three sides, Mumbai is the most populous city on the west coast of the Indian peninsula. Mumbai is listed among the most costly cities to buy real estate in. As being one of the most international cities of India, Mumbai has pleasant weather and advanced health care facilities. With job opportunities offered, increased expatriate migration and investment buyers that are willing to reside in the city has consequentially driven up the demand for property in Mumbai.

3.Beijing, CHN

Beijing Expat Insurance

The second Chinese city that is considered to be one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in as an expatriate is Beijing. Beijing is China’s capital, as well as its political and cultural centre. Known for its influential culture, Beijing has been known to be an extremely popular destination for expatriates moving overseas. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, Beijing is in continuous demand for real-estate investments, resulting in increasing high costs of living. Apart from real-estate costs, Beijing also has one of the most expensive healthcare systems, especially for non-native residents.

4. Shanghai, CHN

The third Chinese city that has made its way to be one of the leading most expensive cities in the world to live in is Shanghai. Located on the central coast of the country, Shanghai has become one of the leading financial hubs of the world. The importance and ability to conduct business in Shanghai have transformed the city to be an expatriate hot spot. With continuous growth and demand, the cost of living has skyrocketed in the last few decades. Don’t be surprised to see an average, furnished one-bedroom apartment costing $3,000 CAD/month.

5. London, UK

London has long been one of the most popular, and therefore most expensive cities to relocate as an expatriate. London is known for its rich history and remarkable agriculture, as well as being a city that can please all needs. Whether you are interested in art, culture, food or adventure, the city has it all. As a leading destination for expatriates, the significant increase in population has caused a substantial surge in living expenses, such as accommodation, transportation and food & entertainment.

 

If deciding to relocate to one of the above cities, it will be very important to ensure that you have proper medical coverage while abroad. Living in one of these cities will cost you a substantial amount of money, you’ll want to ensure that you don’t have to worry about any unforeseen medical expenses. At Expat Financial, we can offer a wide range of expatriate health insurance plans designed specifically for expatriates of any nationality around much of the world. For additional information, contact us at info@tfgglobal.com or click here for a quote today! 

 

Becoming a Global Citizen

The opportunity to live a life as a global citizen is one that is appealing to many people. It involves a life of adventure and new experiences. If deciding to become a global citizen, it is important to understand what it takes to successfully take on the opportunity in which you are given and facilitate the transition period. Let’s dive into what it means to be a global citizen.

Health considerations

As many concerns arise about making the decision to become a global citizen, health considerations are likely to be at the top of your priorities before moving. Taking care of your health while living abroad will be one of the most important and crucial steps to ensure a successful and blissful lifestyle.

Global health insurance is highly recommended for anyone living or travelling abroad. The advantages of global health insurance go far beyond basic medical care. It will alleviate any added stress or concerns about medical coverage while travelling abroad, as well as facilitated payments, coverage regions and standard of care.

At Expat Financial, we offer plans from basic in-hospital plans to in-hospital and out-patient plans. We are able to provide various plans from several different insurance companies in order to find the right fit. Contact us today by email at info@tfgglobal.com or click here for a free online quote. 

global medical

Culture adaptations  

Depending on where your global adventures take you, there is a high chance that you will be relocated to a country that will likely lead to a degree of culture shock. The important thing here is to stay as open-minded as possible. Locals will gladly teach you their culture and welcome you into their country, as long as you are willing to immerse yourself in the community.

A useful type for overcoming culture shock is to learn the local language as well as possible. This will allow you to engage with more locals and feel less alienated when exploring and appreciated the new city in which you call home.

Location is key

When it comes to choosing where you want to relocate, there are many different considerations to remember. First, it will be important to understand the local culture and what it will mean to connect with the locals as an expatriate.

A second aspect that is very important will be to find an area that has low crime rates for your safety – whether that is choosing, in general, a safe city or specifically a safe neighborhood. Explore our region & city guides to discover which regions are the best fit for you!

A third factor that is important in choosing a location will be to know what the tax policies are for your incoming country. Many countries have different ways in which they tax their local employees, and as an expatriate living abroad, it will be very important to know the local taxation policies.

Get involved in local politics and policies.

As important as it is to immerse yourself in a local community, it will be equally as important to immerse yourself in the local politics and policies that are relevant to your new home. Knowledge of local politics will help you understand a multitude of important factors, such as taxation, governance, community values and elections, as these will all be crucial in your development in the community.

It is important to note that it is not recommended to get involved in politics in all countries, and it is important to research beforehand and look into political stability before diving into local politics, especially if you are not a citizen of your new country. Getting involved in politics as an expat in many countries, especially ones with little or no human rights protections, can be very dangerous.

Apart from local politics and policies, we also recommend having a general understanding of global politics, specifically with countries that directly affect your new city. This will allow you to stay aware of external factors and policies that may alter the way in which you engage with your community.

Keeping in touch

Lastly, after making the decision to become a global citizen, it will still be important to stay connected with your roots back in your home country. This can come with many challenges, including adjusting to time zones, whether or not you are in a Wi-Fi efficient zone or keeping this priority top of mind. It is important to keep in touch with members back in your home country in order to maintain and facilitate the transition, as well as keeping in touch with your own mental health.

 

The fundamentals of becoming an expatriate

There are numerous reasons as to why someone will make the decision to relocate to a new country and become an expatriate. The decision can be an inbound decision of wanting a new life of adventure or you are being relocated due to your job. Regardless of the reason, there are an abundant amount of benefits for making the move. The term expatriate is often misinterpreted and we are here to help you understand what it means to be an expatriate and how we recommend preparing for your new life.

What is an Expatriate?

An expatriate is considered as anyone who is living outside of their native country – meaning the country in which they were born and/or brought up in. Expats that are living overseas can be considered in a permanent, semi-permanent or temporary placement, depending on the expats’ specific situation.

When relocating abroad, regardless of the reason for moving, there are plenty of considerations to think about beforehand. Some top priority factors are to determine where your income will derive from, are you living in a safe area, how to attain housing, are you moving somewhere with a different language than your native tongue, whether or not you need a visa, and how does the medical care system work in your new country. We have created a small guide to answer some big-picture questions that are crucial to know before your big relocation.

Visa requirements

Most countries will require a visa in order to become a local resident, and the process and availability will be dependent on your country of origin, as well as the inbound country. It is very important to understand all the factors and limitations of your visa before moving. More often then not, a work visa will have a longer period of validity in comparison to a visitors visa, resulting in a more stable duration of stay.

Adapting to local culture

Your international relocation may bring you to a country that is vastly different than your home town, whether that be in Africa, Asia, Europe or South America. Each region and country around the world has it’s own unique offerings to you as an expatriate, and it will be important to learn and appreciate how differently things are done. One aspect that will greatly benefit you as an expatriate will be to learn the local language as well as possible. Learning a new language has many benefits and challenges, and in the end, it will greatly improve your experiences in the new country. The more you adjust and dive into the culture and experiences of your new home, the easier it will be for you to adjust and enjoy your time away from home.

The benefits of Expatriate health insurance

Countries all around the world vary in healthcare, in cost and standardization and care. As an expatriate living abroad, you will want to have the best healthcare coverage as possible. In most circumstances, countries will require expatriates to obtain a global medical coverage plan for extra protection, as most expats won’t be covered under a domestic plan. A comprehensive global medical plan that can move with you and cover you locally, regionally and globally – especially back home will be critical.

A major benefit of a global medical health care plan is the ability to cover other dependents as well – whether that be a spouse or children. Obtaining the best care for yourself and your family will be extremely important as you choose to live an expatriate life.

Domestic government health plans often only provide access to public hospitals and doctors. This may become problematic as you will have more restrictive access to medical care. In order to avoid the complications of long wait lines, extra costs of medical testing and surgeries, most expats will seek out a global medical care coverage in order to have access to private hospitals, doctors and clinics.

The keys to success

As rewarding as living an expatriate life can be, there will surely be some obstacles along the way. Here are some suggestions in order to get the most out of your expatriate experience.

  1. Appreciate the cultures and languages of your new country! Many people will never be given the opportunity to travel and live the way you are, so make sure to take the time to dive into new cultures, meet the local populations and learn to appreciate the way of life that is different than your norm.
  2. Moving abroad is the perfect opportunity to do a major clean out of your house! Deciding what to pack when moving abroad can be a stressful and tedious experience, however, it is an excellent opportunity to purge out old household items and clothing that you don’t need!
  3. As you are becoming an expatriate, it will be important to engage in an expatriate community as well as the local natives. There are several benefits to relying on other expats, including learning from their past mistakes and suggestions, as well as their knowledge on conducting business and creating a social life in a foreign land.
  4. It will also be important to know about your countries taxation policies. As all countries differ in tax legislation, it will be important to be up to date on your tax status and whether double taxation agreements are in place between the two countries.
  5. Lastly, obtaining your international health insurance before relocating, or within the first few days of moving will be crucial. This will alleviate a large amount of unnecessary and added stress that is preventable in order to protect yourself. At Expat Financial, we are able to meet the growing needs of expatriates living around the world who require global healthcare coverage for themselves and their families. To view available international health insurance plans available, click here!

 

How expats can work from home – 5 tips for expatriates living abroad

The idea of working from home can be exciting. And many expatriates will decide to work from home while living and travelling abroad. This is especially important for expat spouses who are living with their partner who is employed but are unable to work in the new country for a variety of reasons, such as work visa issues. However, there are many inherent concerns and challenges to working from home. In this article, we will discuss five tips for expats who decide to work from home while living overseas.

Benefits of working from home

It is easy to understand why working from home has become so popular. The freedom to control over your schedule, the flexibility in pursuing personal interests, and keeping down the cost of commuting.  To many people, it is pleasant to begin their day as early as they wish, so they’re working when they are most efficient and alert to perform their jobs.

Working from home opens up more opportunities for career growth and personal satisfaction. Here’s a practical guide to excel under minimal supervision:

Make Sure You Set Goals 

It is essential to set goals if wish to work from home, especially during the change of family dynamics while living abroad. You will want to break goals down into small daily goals and identify what daily expectations must be to achieve them. It is important to concentrate your efforts if you’re going to achieve your goals.

Avoid Distractions

To avoid an infinite number of distractions while working from home, it is critical to set up a professional home-based office to stay focused on your daily tasks. It is ideal to have a reliable computer with quality internet, printer, business phone and general office supplies. All these items will increase your productivity and save your time.

Another suggestion would be a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. All the outside and inside noises can ruin your day. Construction noise, traffic sounds, even the TV sounds are annoying. Therefore, it is wise to choose a pair of noise-cancelling headphones while working from home.

Work and Exercise Balance 

It is important to get out of your home office and do some exercise. Instead of sitting in front of your computer all day long. Take a short walk outside your house during the day or head to the gym for an hour workout. It will make a massive difference to your emotional and physical well being, as you will have the chance to connect with people, or even socialize with other groups of people who work from home.

Update Your Colleagues Often 

Consistently updating your colleagues will help lower your stress level and will you kee you from feeling that you’re falling behind. Many work-from-home professionals know that they don’t have to do it all alone. Using an online file sharing system such as Dropbox, will allow you to update your colleagues or teammates in real-time. It will also eliminate the problem of working with outdated projects.

Don’t Forget International Health Insurance 

For work-from-home professionals living abroad, it is important to note that you will most likely be responsible for obtaining your own international health insurance plans as you might be working for yourself or may not be supported by an employer. Additionally, the country you live in may have little or no medical coverage and may not provide adequate healthcare facilities. However, some expat employers will employ people working abroad, especially in IT roles.

Domestic health plans may not even cover you or will only cover you in that one country, which is not ideal if you wish to travel or obtain health coverage abroad. You will probably lose your current health plan coverage if you live abroad or it may not cover overseas travel. If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form. Also, don’t forget to obtain individual life and disability coverage as well if you are a work-from-home professional.

Top 10 common international health insurance mistakes for expats

If you are an expatriate and searching for global health insurance plans, it is critical that you select the right plan for you and your family. Without an appropriate health insurance plan, you may be putting your health and finances at risk. To help you make the best choices, in this article, we will discuss steps to avoid the common health insurance mistakes that expatriates sometimes make. The following common mistakes and advice relate to both individual and corporate expat health plans. Remember, we all make mistakes, but when it comes to expat healthcare, it makes sense to read the points below to help avoid the following:

Mistake #1: Not choosing a plan that can cover a pre-existing medical condition

If you or your family member suffer from a medical condition, one of the most critical questions to ask of any health insurance plan is whether it would cover pre-existing medical conditions. Most of the insurers will exclude pre-existing medical conditions; however, some will charge an additional premium to approve the application, but this depends on the severity of the medical condition. For example, how serious the condition is, how long you have been treatment free and the potential costs of treatment. There is usually an exception for group plans because the risk is spread among healthy and unhealthy people – such group plans can often cover pre-existing medical conditions if the number of employees covered is large enough (usually 10 or 20 employees.)

Expat Financial works with global medical insurance companies who can provide full coverage for pre-existing medical conditions on the medical coverage for both the employees and dependents if the employer has more than 25 or 30 global employees – including both expats and local nationals. These excellent insurance plans can even provide full coverage for an expat group of only two or three expat employees. This is a significant advantage for any expat employer as almost all employees or dependents, especially older ones, will have at least one medical condition. To learn more, please contact us or obtain a free quote online.

Mistake #2: Obtaining a domestic policy

Some expatriates purchase health insurance plans that don’t provide them with an adequate amount of coverage when living and travelling abroad. Domestic government health plans usually provide coverage to access to private medical facilities. These plans are usually basic and will not allow for treatment outside your home country and are also not portable if you move to a new country. Therefore, expatriates will want to purchase international health insurance plan that covers them locally, regionally and globally. Most international health insurance plans will provide in-patient medical care, outpatient medical care, specialists care, routine scans, etc. If you are relocating to a region with limited medical services, you can select the medical evacuation option. Most of the global medical plans will offer dental and vision options. Finally, don’t overly rely on your health policy back home, as it probably doesn’t cover you abroad.

Mistake #3: Assuming you are young and healthy and don’t require cover

If you assume that you and your family are healthy and don’t need to obtain health insurance, you are putting your health and finance at risk. This is especially true in situations such as maternity care, cancer, accidents and emergency evacuation. Medical expenses in both developing and developed nations can be extremely expensive, and you don’t want to go bankrupt because of uninsured medical fees.

Mistake #4: Not obtaining maternity coverage

Maternity care in private hospitals in many countries can be very expensive. It is vital to obtain maternity coverage if you are planning to become pregnant as an expatriate. Most plans have a 12 month waiting period before maternity related expenses will be covered. We often get calls from expatriates who are currently pregnant and want coverage for that birth, but for individual expatriates this is not possible as you would have to have obtained a global medical plan that covered pregnancy and new child at least 12 months prior to conception. If your child is born with health issues, the baby will have to medically underwritten as a new applicant if maternity coverage was not in force 12 months prior – this can be a huge liability. If you are planning to have children or if there is a possibility that you may become pregnant, it is vital that your global health plan includes maternity care

Mistake #5: Not obtaining evacuation coverage

Emergency evacuation is another critical part of any expatriate’s medical coverage, especially if you are residing in a developing country where local medical facilities are not up to western standards. It will ensure you have access to high-quality medical facilities in the event of a medical emergency. Ambulances, helicopters, planes and travelling medical care can be incredibly high if you are not adequately insured. For many expats in the Caribbean for example, there are some excellent medical facilities, but an expat may have to obtain medical care in the USA for more serious medical conditions.

Mistake #6: Obtaining the cheapest global medical plan

Another mistake that expats sometimes make is choosing a plan based on price alone. If it is a lot cheaper than most plans in the market, there is probably a good reason for this. We are all guilty of looking for a good deal, but selecting the right plan is paramount when it comes to global medical insurance. If you are living or working overseas, you want an insurance plan that is going to be there when you need it. Quality is extremely important. Our most comprehensive policy with excellent service is the Cigna Global plan we offer on our website. We provide the same coverage and price, and you get the benefit of our agency support both before and after you purchase – we are your advocate.

The premiums of expatriate health insurance plan depend on a variety of factors. These factors help the international health insurer determine your initial and renewal premiums. Before picking an international health insurance plan, you should carefully consider co-pays, co-insurance or deductible level, depending on your health care needs. Don’t pick a plan just because of its low premiums. In fact, there are some ways to lower your health insurance premiums while still obtaining first-class access to your desired coverage level. Please read the blog article How to lower your global medical insurance premiums – Five tips for expats to learn more about it. Contact us to discuss your requirements and obtain quotes from the market.

Mistake #7: Not telling the truth on an application

Some expats may suffer from a pre-existing medical condition and not disclose it to the insurer. This is a serious mistake as it will allow the insurer to invalidate all your claims and terminate your insurance policy. Insurers will find out eventually, and it is vital that you provide full disclosure of your health when you complete the application online or offline. Insurers will often write to your doctor to confirm your medical health before or after a policy is taken out, so make sure you tell the truth when applying. If you have a condition, disclose it and provide as much detail as possible along with reports, tests and it is possible that the condition will be covered, depending on the insurer and the condition.

Mistake #8: For Americans, not obtaining a plan that covers treatment in the USA

Some American expats do not obtain a plan that covers medical treatment back home. If you are an American expat, there is a good chance you will want a plan that will allow you medical treatment back in the USA where you have family, friends and other support groups. Yes adding US care to your policy will cost you more, but surprisingly for some plans that cost is quite minimal – especially the Cigna Global Health Options plan we offer online.

expat healthcare if critical

Mistake #9: Not purchasing a plan that covers drugs

If you are an expatriate taking prescription drugs for short-term or under chronic medical conditions, it is vital to obtain prescription drug coverage. Many countries have very expensive drug costs, especially when treating major illness drugs or using a new drug. Many drugs, especially biologics, are extremely expensive so it is essential to purchase a plan with prescription coverage.

Mistake #10: Not checking the fine print

International health insurance is complicated and can be confusing for expats who are living and working abroad. We are all guilty of not reading the fine print or policy coverage details. It is essential when you are purchasing a global medical plan that you carefully read the fine print of the global medical policy. This can also include checking the medical network and administration details of the provider.

Expat Financial offers several global insurance plans that will provide excellent drug coverage for expatriates who are living abroad. Some of the global medical plans we offer can even cover local nationals in select countries. The international health plans from providers such as CignaMSH and IMG can provide prescription drug coverage for most expatriates. You can get a quote online and apply for the individual expat health plans we offer.